Best friends and cousins, Lydia and Sar have had the pleasure of living together with a host family that they really enjoy this summer. The two of them took the time to give us a glimpse into their lives and what makes them feel so welcomed and cared for.
“The first day we arrived, we were immediately welcomed with hugs and delicious tacos. We felt right at home when we got our house tour after eating. Despite the language barrier, we knew we were going to be okay because of how they communicated with us. They persist to talk and explain things when we're confused. For example, our host dad persistently explained “buenpan” (a fruit) and its uses during the house tour. Learning more about a small piece of the country's gastronomy, and the historical uses of buenpan made it feel like we were already immersing into the culture. From there, our bond and relationship only grew stronger and closer. We are very familiar with our host mom's bodily gestures, and she loves joking with us. Her favorite thing to ask is if we are "jarta" which, as they explain in Spanish, means super full until you feel ugly (fed up). She loves asking us this because we always feast on the amazing food she makes us. Our dad, on the other hand, loves talking about sports, politics, and teaching us new things. After school, he would tell us that he himself is also still learning because you can never learn everything in this world. He quoted Socrates -- "yo solo sé que yo sé nada" which means “I only know that I know nothing.” They genuinely care for us and our safety. For example, they always tell us to walk in groups and keep our phones in our bags for safety. When we ask to go somewhere, they question us a bunch like who we were going with. Once, they made us call them to confirm, and they called our program leader and other host parents for confirmation. Adding on to our close bond, our host mom calls us her "hijas fáciles” (easy daughters) and says sweet things like I love you, take care, go safely, etc. After dinner, we bond on the patio and talk, watch TV, or listen to their favorite songs.”
Without a doubt, Sar and Lydia have gotten so much out of their cultural exchange. From trying new foods, to talking about the sports teams they love, to discussing philosophy and history (all in Spanish!), their experience is illustrative of the greater intercultural impact that study abroad has on its participants.
Girls, we thank you for the opportunity to read about your home stay in Santiago. Your presence will be missed, but you'll always have a place to visit in the future!